Cobleskill, county kick off cop study


By Jim Poole

A study looking at Cobleskill and Schoharie County law enforcement may result in delivering the same services more efficiently with less expense.
That’s a goal, anyway, as Ben Syden of the Laberge Group explained how he’ll look at merging or sharing services with the Cobleskill PD and County Sheriff’s Office.
The Board of Supervisors hired Laberge, and Mr. Syden spoke to about 50 village and county residents, officials, deputies and police officers at the Cobleskill Firehouse Tuesday night.
A manpower shortage in both departments was a factor in going with the study; there’s no village police coverage from 1am to 7am and no deputies patrolling from 1am to 5am.
“These are two different agencies with strained resources,” Mr. Syden said, adding that both are “very dedicated” and also work together.
Also, as Cobleskill Mayor Becky Terk has pointed out––and did so again Tuesday night––the Police Department makes up 87 percent of the village tax levy.
Mr. Syden’s presentation described that cost as an “unsustainable fiscal burden” for village taxpayers.
Expected to take several months, the Laberge study will look at current programs and services, shifts and hours of coverage, competing demands, staffing, crime and arrest data and response statistics.
Also to be looked at, Mr. Syden said, is what residents expect.
“The study will be driven by what the community and the county want,” he said.
That could be a single law enforcement agency, separate but shared services or completely separate as they are now.
“This is re-design, re-assess,” Mr. Syden said. “Is this an opportunity to provide those services? We don’t know that yet.
“There’s no pre-determined answer.”
Speakers after Mr. Syden agreed, adding that they want to see the study results before forming an opinion. (See related story.)
Once the village and county agree on a solution, Laberge will help implement it.
“We’re not going to drop the plan and say, ‘Thank you very much,’ ” Mr. Syden said.

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The county’s Law Enforcement Merger Committee recommended the hiring of the Laberge group for the study.
Carlisle Supervisor John Leavitt chairs the committee. Members are Cobleskill Mayor Becky Terk, County Administrator Korsah Akumfi, Richmondville Supervisor Jeff Haslun, Cobleskill Supervisor Werner Hampel, Summit Supervisor Harold Vroman, Sheriff Ron Stevens and Cobleskill Police Chief Justin Manchester.